Watching the snow fly and hearing the wind howl is great motivation to have visions of Easter breads, tulips, lilies and folks gathered to celebrate.
I attended a gathering last weekend where we were reminded again about the importance of hospitality to draw folks together and build understanding.
A farm transition consultant has the habit of asking clients what kind of Christmas they are envisioning after the transfer of the farm has been executed. It cuts to the heart of strong farm families. Strong families celebrate. Anxious families phone me the week before the big three: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Are you longing for a better experience around the ham and scalloped potatoes this year? So am I.
Our family is very small since siblings live in other provinces, and few are close by. The ham is always too big, so I invite folks to join us at our table. Breaking bread together is a great way to really get to know what is happening in the lives of others.
This winter has been long and interesting; very full. The common theme from young farmers is a heart cry to ask for magical solutions to draw the older generations to the table just to talk about change, creating certainty, and their futures. Separating the celebration side of family with the chores of the farm is hard to do. Perhaps this is the year that you invite a few more folks to the table to create a more festive fun group, and the conversation will be kept light due to the mix of family and friends.
I am not asking you to avoid having the tough conversations, but perhaps you need a “warm-up” party where the clan gets used to the idea of sharing a meal together without any agenda except to enjoy each other’s company. Maybe the theme for your family this year is to build bridges and reach out to each other to create a better atmosphere for sharing expectations of your future.
Easter is a season for transformation. Jesus rose from the dead and his resurrected body signals to Christian believers that eternal life is real, death has lost its sting. What transformations are you hoping for this Easter? What incidents or stories are you carrying around that you take responsibility for? What can you learn from what you are feeling for your family right now? Do you sense that the time is right to extend the olive branch and ask for forgiveness of past wrongs?
Sometimes during a family meeting as the coach I will ask, “What is your model of forgiveness?” The family may be dumbstruck with no answers to that question. Or they may say, “We don’t know how to do it, or where to start.”
Gary Chapman’s book When Sorry is not Enough, is a good read for practical ways to apologize, change behaviour, and make things right. You can also read my blog at www.elainefroese.com/blog “How to say sorry at harvest”. The Bible is the best resource for learning more about forgiveness.
Spring is a wonderful time of year when the new growth pokes through the tired winter ground and the air smells fresh and invigorating. I encourage you to enter this new season with hope and expectation that the climate of your farm’s culture can change for the better. We all get to choose our responses and we do not have to just quickly react without thinking. Ask yourself, “What’s the main thing we need to focus on this spring to have better relationships? “It might be addressing the topics or issues that people are avoiding talking about, what I call the “undiscussbulls.” Or is it asking for help to create more certainty for everyone’s future and the farm’s legacy?
The first step is to call people to the table. The second step is to have a process for sharing without interruption and listen well. The third step is to note what the key themes are, and act on creating solutions for the problems exposed, and the opportunities in front of you all this season. Lastly, keep a positive attitude. Don’t cloud your thinking into a downward negative spiral.
I enjoyed reading Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage, where he talks about the importance of culture and good organizational health. He has some key questions to consider as you take the pulse of your team:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important right now?
- Who must do what?
These are great questions for your family to focus on as you approach seeding and the intense times of work ahead. Easter’s message is about the unconditional love of God, given to us as a free gift in His Son Jesus. Jesus models for us the way of forgiveness. My definition of success includes richness of relationships with people and with God.
I hope there are many gracious and joyful folks sharing the Easter bread and chocolate at your table this year. What are you going to do now to make sure that spirit of engagement happens?